Since I’m reading about law and gospel, I’m going to do a series of posts from my Romans 9:30-10:13 paper. This is a paper in which we were asked to answer five questions:
1. What does it mean that the Gentiles have attained righteousness (9:30)?
2. According to Romans 9:31-33 and 10:2-3, what was Israel’s problem?
3. How should the two occurrences of “righteousness of God” in Romans 10:3 be defined (and translated)?
4. What does it mean that Christ is the τέλος of the law (10:4)?
5. Does Paul draw a contrast or comparison between Romans 10:5 and 10:6-8? What is the significance of this contrast or comparison?
In this first post, I’ll give my paraphrase for Romans 9:30-10:13. In subsequent posts, I’ll post my answers to each of the five questions above.
My paraphrase of Romans 9:30-10:13:
In light of the fact that so few Jews are being saved, what shall we say? Gentiles, who didn’t pursue a right standing with God, are attaining such a right standing. And what kind of righteousness are they attaining? One by faith in Christ as a redeemer and sin-bearer.
On the other hand, Israel who pursued a law whose long-term goal was righteousness (through faith in Christ) did not succeed in reaching that long-term goal (of attaining righteousness). Why? They failed because they did not make this pursuit of the law’s goal by faith but as if it were on the basis of works. Therefore, they tripped over the stumbling stone when He came. As the Old Testament says: “Notice: I am putting in the path of God’s people a stone of stumbling and a rock that offends proud people who seek to establish their own righteousness on the basis of their deeds. But, by contrast, whoever puts faith in him for righteousness will not be put to shame. They will in fact be saved!” Sadly, their ignorance the goal of the law (Christ for righteousness) has now also resulting in them continuing to walk down the law path even though that path has effectively served its purpose.
Brothers, I really want and regularly pray to God that He might save them. As much as anyone, I can tell you that they have a strong desire for God, but it is a desire not based on knowledge. You see, they ignored the righteousness that God freely offered to sinners broken-hearted over their guilt before a holy God and sought to establish a so-called “righteousness” based on their imperfect performance. In so doing (and they continue to do this), they are not submitting to God’s perfect righteousness, because Christ is the goal of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Moses wrote about the right standing that comes by the law when he said, “the one who does the commandments shall live by them.” What Moses meant was: Obey the law perfectly by means of a perfect faith in God, and you’ll attain eternal life. And your attempts to perfectly keep the law should have brought you to see your desperate plight! Which should have led you to seek the righteousness based on faith, which says this: “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’” (that’s impossible, like accomplishing Christ’s incarnation); or “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go down into the depths?’” (that’s impossible, like accomplishing Christ’s resurrection). God had to do these things for us.
But what does the righteousness based on faith say? The word of faith (that we proclaim) is near you, in your mouth and in your heart—namely, cease from striving to establish your own righteousness by what you do and believe in the One who perfectly accomplished obedience on your behalf. The bedrock of the Mosaic covenant was always the gracious condescension of God, and not our deeds. Moses’ law had the long-term goal of our repentance, and our crying out to God to supply an alien righteousness. Because if you would only confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be declared righteous. For it is with your heart that you exercise faith and obtain right standing with God, and it is with your mouth that you speak and show yourself to be saved. Because the Scripture says, “All the ones who believe in him will not be put to shame.” Because, after all, God makes no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, graciously imparting his spiritual riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Update: Here are links to the rest of this series: